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Sammie Finds a Home

By Carl Langley
web posted October 17, 2008
GUEST COLUMN – A few weeks back I was walking to my car in the parking lot at this newspaper when a black dog struggled to her feet. She had been resting in the shade of an oak tree in the center of the parking lot.

With her tail feebly wagging in a gesture of friendship, she came straight toward me. I stopped and began speaking to her. She kept coming. She got close enough for me to touch her.

There was no doubt she was comfortable around people, seeing them as friends. Perhaps she had been someone’s pet. And there also was no doubt that she had raised a litter of puppies. I will never know what happened to them.

Shortly after the trembling, emaciated dog stopped in front of me she lowered her head and rubbed it against my leg. I knew she was telling me something. She was making a plea for help in one of those wonderful ways dogs have in communicating with people.

“Look at me please! What a mess I am!” she seemed to be saying. “If I do not get help I will certainly die!” Those were the words she would have said had she been able to speak.

I reached down and ran my hand along the back of her neck and along her spine. Her coat felt like a piece of rough cloth. Her back, sides and neck were covered with ticks. I could see fleas scurrying about on her back and sides.

Nature can be so vile at times, so horrifying. The plague loosed upon her brought me to tears. I kneeled down and hugged her tightly but gently, quietly offering soothing words and promising to help.

I began brushing away the fleas and I began pulling at bloated ticks. I had removed nearly a dozen before spotting dozens more on her legs and on her feet. It seemed as fast as I pulled or brushed one off two more would appear.

I had to do more. She stood quietly as I gently wrapped my arms around her body. I picked her up and took her to my car. I put her on the back seat and off we went to the Aiken County Animal Shelter on Wire Road.

The shelter is one of Bill Shepherd’s great gifts to dogs, cats, a variety of other animals and the people of this county before he retired as our county administrator. The retired Army colonel was the best and remains the best administrator this county ever had.

I knew Shirley Harden, the shelter director, and her assistants Sandy and Tammy would care for the one I left in their arms. I delivered her into the most loving place she ever knew. It took several days of bathing and treatment before the fleas and ticks were killed. She gained weight and her coat took on a rich luster.

The gentle black dog who loved people was reborn, and with a name befitting those who cared. The shelter staff named her Sammie in honor of Sandy and Tammy and she was a new creature. I made regular visits to the shelter and on each trip I found a dog filled with life and giving her love freely and openly.

I called my personal angel Elaine van der Linden. Elaine was once a rabid political activist. She has given up on politicians because of their betrayals and now leads a crusade to save dogs, cats and other pets who have been abused and neglected.

Elaine is the founder of Molly’s Militia, a North Augusta animal rescue agency, and, as I expected, she found foster care for Sammie with John and Emily Ames. The Ames and many others like them are working wonders on behalf of the hopeless.

John and Emily took Sammie into their home and into their hearts. John is an electronics engineer and works for the U.S. military at Fort Gordon. He will be moving to a new assignment soon, and Elaine is hoping that when they leave Sammie will be taken along.

Elaine took a picture of John, Emily and Sammie and sent it to me on the Internet. Elaine works with a digital camera and is one of the best amateur photographers I have ever seen.

I fell in love with the picture, and with John and Emily and Sammie.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If true, this one is a symphony filled with lyrics of love. It shows how deep the bond can be forged between a loving couple and a loving pet.

Even in the worst of times a divine power can enter into our lives, bringing hope in the most helpless of cases and light in the darkest of places. How else can one explain how Sammie, apparently thrown out by the roadside or left behind when a family moved, found her way to the parking lot and found her way to me?

But I had a disquieting moment while reflecting on what had happened. How many loving creatures like Sammie are cast aside and never find anyone? That is the saddest story of all. At least in Sammie’s case there is a happy ending, one made possible by wonderful people like Shirley, Sandy, Tammy, Elaine, John and Emily.

God bless them all!

(Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Carl Langley while working at the Aiken Standard newspaper)


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